Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research Upsetting Some Notions About Honey Bees

Date:
December 29, 2006
Source:
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
Summary:
Genetic research, based on information from the recently released honey bee genome, has toppled some long-held beliefs about the honey bee that colonized Europe and the U.S. According to research published recently in Science, the four most common subspecies of honey bee originated in Africa and entered Europe in two separate migrations.

Dr. Spencer Johnston, professor with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, works on a cytometer, an instrument used to determine the size of genome samples, at Texas A&M University. Located at the Center for Biosystematics and Biodiversity, the cytometer is one of two on the Texas A&M campus. (Texas Agricultural Experiment Station photo by Edith Chenault)

Genetic research, based on information from the recently released honey bee genome, has toppled some long-held beliefs about the honey bee that colonized Europe and the U.S.

According to research published recently in Science, an international professional journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the four most common subspecies of honey bee originated in Africa and entered Europe in two separate migrations, said Dr. Spencer Johnston, entomologist with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and one of the authors of the article.

A large number of different bee species exist in Asia, where it had long been thought the honey bee originated, Johnston said.

"Their origin in Africa was suggested in other studies, but our result shows it dramatically to be true," he said.

Taking genetic information from the honey bee genome sequencing effort, researchers from Texas A&M University, University of Illinois, Cornell University, Washington State University, University of Kansas and the University of California-Irvine, and one private producer traced the genealogy of honey bees. Two branches originate in Africa.

The honey bee is not native to North America; it was introduced from Europe for honey production in the early 1600s, Johnston said. Subspecies were introduced from Italy in 1859, and later from Spain, Portugal and elsewhere.

When honey bees collected in Europe and Africa were studied, they separated genetically into four distinct groups, he said.

However, the genome of U.S. bees "was a complete mix of the three different introduced European subspecies," he said.

That mixture is changing with the introduction of the fourth subspecies from Africa in 1990. The form that was Italian mixed with other strains has been crossbreeding with an Africanized-Spanish strain. In effect, the Italian mix is disappearing. This has not happened to the same extent with the European varieties.

"It is clear that introduced African bees mated with existing U.S. bees and that colonies with large portions of the African bee genome were able to out-compete the original U.S. mixture," he said.

"Why the Africanized honey bee successfully invaded the New World but has not moved across Europe, we don't know," Johnston added. "Maybe (the U.S. varieties) were selected (by beekeepers) for everything but competition."

An important goal of the research was to identify candidate genes that could be responsible for the overly defensive behavior in Africanized honey bees.

"It will be a race among researchers to find out which specific genes are involved in behavior," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications. "Research Upsetting Some Notions About Honey Bees." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061211220927.htm>.
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications. (2006, December 29). Research Upsetting Some Notions About Honey Bees. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061211220927.htm
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications. "Research Upsetting Some Notions About Honey Bees." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061211220927.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A U.S. doctor has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, as the worst-ever outbreak continues to grow. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins